I’m alive and well and survived my 2nd marathon!
Wow. What a weekend. Going into marathon week I knew the possibility of a rainy day marathon, but you just never know in Texas. As the week went on the rain chances kept increasing, while the predicted temperature kept decreasing.
We drove down to Houston Friday afternoon and checked into our hotel. We usually drive in on Saturday, but I am really glad we had an extra day to enjoy before race day. Friday afternoon we walked around the expo and enjoyed the crowd-free shopping. The Houston Marathon Expo is never disappointing and I always wish I had more money to spend.
Friday night we went to our annual dinner at The Aquarium with my parents.
Saturday morning we slept in and enjoyed a fairly relaxing morning. The Marathon offered a 5K to run, but we opted out of it and I am glad we did. It was humid and 75 degrees.
My parents and I walked the expo again while Justin took the kids to The Children’s Museum.
I met some bloggers from TX who were running Sunday.
I debated my outfit choice back and forth on Saturday. My dad and I had short-sleeve shirts made, but I knew of the possibility of rain and cold and I wondered if that would be enough. I finally made a game-day decision and bought some crazy colored arm sleeves in case it was cold during the Marathon. That would be one of the best decisions of the weekend.
Saturday night we ordered pizza into our hotel, gave the kids baths, and then had them in bed by 6:00 (and they were fast asleep 10 minutes later!). I followed suite around 7:30, knowing that I would be up early to eat breakfast and get ready for the big day.
Good thing I did, because at 2:30 a.m. I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. So at 3:00 a.m. I started carb loading and fueling for the marathon while reading magazines in the hotel bathroom and taking pictures of myself. Classy, I know. I decided on arm warmers, shorts, and compression socks, but was still debating other articles of clothing to bring.
I went to my parent’s hotel room at 5 a.m. (we had joining rooms) and debated what articles of clothing to bring and not bring. We stalked the weather app and forecast and finally decided to bring jackets, gloves, raincoats (2 of them), and shoe covers. The weather said rain and 45 degrees, so I lathered myself with body glide, anti-chaffing cream, and liquid bandaid.
We walked downstairs intending to make the 1 mile walk to the convention center, but Oh. My. Word. IT WAS COLD AND RAINING! So, we opted for the shuttle to the convention center.
We made last minute bathroom breaks and talked strategy and then it was time for my dad and I to leave my mom and her friend and make our way to our starting lines.
Holy Smokes. It was COLD and wet and raining and I wanted to cry. Dad and I walked to our corral and used the bathroom 2 more times. During this time I was shivering and thinking that 26,000 of us where out here to run for the fun of it.
Right before the gun went off I shed my jacket, shoe covers, and one raincoat. And at 7 a.m. we were off.
And at precisely 7:07 a.m. it started pouring. I mean torrential downpour where I had to duck my head and run. And I laughed and thought that this is just pure craziness that us runners do this to ourselves. That I paid for this! I was cold, my legs were shaking, and my hands were freezing (despite having hot hands). My feet were already wet and I just told myself to have fun and run the race of my life with my dad.
Our original goal was to break 4 hours, which is a 9:09 pace. Mile 1 was the pouring rain and an overpass with thousands of runners.
Mile 1- 9:19 pace
At Mile 2 my dad said his shoe was giving him problems and he needed to stop and fix it.
Mile 2- 9:03 pace
It was here that I was absolutely amazed at the spectators that came out and cheered despite the rain. This is my 5th time to be at the Houston Marathon and it is my all-time favorite race because of the spectators that come out by the thousands. My dad and I were talking at the start line how we were disappointed by the rain because all the people wouldn’t be out cheering. I was SO wrong. The spectators were awesome. They turned out in droves. In the rain and freezing cold on the entire course. I’m not even kidding.
We had people cheering for us left and right, “Go DAD!!” “You two are awesome!” “Go Team Dad/Daughter!”. And then we had several runners talk to us along the course and say how inspiring it was that we were running together.
Miles 3-8. The downpour stopped and it drizzled off and on. Somewhere around mile 3 we tossed our raincoats but I ran with my gloves and arm sleeves almost the entire race. Somewhere in here I also see The Down Syndrome Association of Houston and give them a big wave while dad shows off his RODS hat. I take a gel at Mile 4.5. Paces these miles: 8:49, 8:31, 8:39, 8:35, 8:50, 8:58
Mile 9-10. The half marathoners break off at this point and the runners thin out some. 8:59, 8:42 pace
Mile 11. My dad tells me he needs to stop and make a bathroom break. I take another gel. Despite the break we run a 9:02 mile.
Mile 12-13. We run out of water in our belts and start taking water every other station. I knew at this point my mom was getting ready to finish her half marathon. Paces: 8:46, 8:47
And this is the cheering section waiting for my mom to finish her half marathon:
Mile 14. We run across an overpass and see some crazy spectators waving their arms and jumping up and down. They are the only spectators on this overpass. Ah! It’s my brother and sis-in-law freezing their rears off to cheer us on!! What a nice surprise! He updated us on mom and then called Justin to update him. I felt great at this point, but dad was struggling. Pace: 8:50
Mile 15-18. What shall we call these miles? Hmmmm. The HARD ones. Not only because they are miles 15-18, but because we were running into a 15 mph wind and our legs were going numb. During these miles we had 3 ambulances drive past us on the marathon course–not something you like to see while running. It messes with your mind.
It was also around these miles that I came upon a youthful looking runner who appeared to be struggling, so I struck up a conversation with this young man. Turns out, he was 13 years old and it was his 2nd marathon. WHAT?! The cutie told me he was struggling because he hadn’t taken his ibuprofen before the marathon. And then he pulled out ahead of us and we never saw his fast self again. I took another gel around mile 15. Paces: 9:05, 8:53, 8:53, 9:16
Mile 19-21.We finally turned a corner and had the wind at our backs. Dad had to stop somewhere in here and fix his shoe again and we interspersed water breaks. I see a sign that says “Johnny Football ran 26.2 miles backwards” and then we give a big WHOOP to two gentlemen running in Core of Cadets apparel that pass us. Paces: 9:05, 9:03, 9:11
Mile 22-25. I started struggling at this point and dad felt strong. My stomach was giving me problems and my knees were done. I should have listened to the advice of popping some Immodium before the race. Mental note for next time.
I kept counting down the minutes until the finish. At mile 22 I knew I only had a little over 30 minutes of running left. I could do this! Pace: 8:59, 8:52, 8:40, 8:50
During the last 4.5 miles we passed 216 runners, but only 7 passed us!
Somewhere around mile 25 we saw mom, Justin, and the kids in downtown Houston. What a relief to see them all and to know that we were almost there!
Mile 26. We pushed it. Pace: 8:10.
The final stretch was awesome. My dad was trying to bury me! That guy can sprint like he stole something! The final stretch (my watch said 26.42 miles) we ran a 7:15 pace. We kicked it to the finish line.
We crossed the finish line holding hands and with hundreds of spectators cheering. It was amazing. I just ran a marathon with my daddy, who I begged to run for years. And not only did we run one together, we ran a 3:54:01. 8:56/mile pace!
I have so many funny memories with my dad during the race. Too embarrassing to mention on this blog, but ones that we have just laughed and laughed about. I love my parents dearly and am so excited we were able to do this together.
After crossing the finish line a news reporter for ABC13 interviewed us. I couldn’t talk…or hardly stand so I left the talking to my dad. We’ve looked for it online but can’t find it. Let me know if you do. I hobbled to the picture area with my dad. My legs were done. They were screaming at me to stop the torture.
I was hurting so bad that I didn’t even want the free food inside the convention center! SO not like me! I was dreading the mile walk back to the hotel in the freezing cold. I think we made it one block when I told my dad there was no way I could make it. My body was shivering and I couldn’t pick up my legs. Praise the Lord a bike cab came by about that time and gave us a ride. Worth every penny. I was SO happy to be in a hot shower and put on dry clothes.
I’ve heard several stories of runners suffering from hypothermia during this race. Partially because of the rain, and partially because it was 75 degrees the day before and runners weren’t prepared. 26,000 were registered for the two races, but I heard that only around 16,000 finished. That’s crazy.
However, if you are ever looking to run a marathon or half marathon, I highly recommend Houston. It’s a lottery registry (usually in June), or you can get in with qualifying times. Our sub-4 hour time automatically qualifies us for next year’s race, so you don’t have to be super-duper fast.
Marathon #2 is in the books. I’ve been hobbling around for a few days, and eating everything in sight, and sleeping a crazy amount, and then eating some more. Walking up and down the stairs for two days was impossible. It was very comical to watch. And to think that I want to do it all over again. I am truly crazy.